Third-string Dallas Mavericks center Ian Mahinmi got a chance to play extended minutes Tuesday night at Portland with Brendan Haywood scratched with lower back stiffness. Even if Haywood is able to play tonight against the Golden State Warriors, the smallish, up-tempo Warriors present a poor matchup for Haywood and Mahinmi could again get the call behind Tyson Chandler.
In the only matchup against the Warriors so far, a 105-100 Mavs win in Dallas on Dec. 7, Mahinmi notched his lone double-double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. He was key in Dallas securing the win. Mahinmi played 21 minutes in the game behind Haywood because Chandler was out with an illness.
The 10 boards remain a season-high. The 6-foot-11 Frenchman hasn't come close to matching it other than grabbing eight boards on Feb. 7 against the Cleveland Cavaliers in 21 minutes.
Since Feb. 27, Mahinmi has been in a rebounding funk. In his last seven games totaling 98 minutes, he has just 12 rebounds. In three of those games, including in 16 minutes Tuesday at Portland, Mahinmi has logged at least nine minutes and finished with no rebounds.
His rebounding average for the season has dipped to 1.9 while averaging 8.4 minutes a game. Last season with the San Antonio Spurs, Mahinmi averaged 2.0 rebounds in 6.3 minutes a game.
At times this season, it seemed Mahinmi, with his high energy level, had a chance to challenge the mostly struggling Haywood for the backup spot.
That's no longer the focus. For Mahinmi it's all about grabbing a few rebounds. Tonight could present the perfect opportunity.